HANOI – A Province like city

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*everything I write here is based solely on my opinion

On my way home from school,  just finished one class in the morning…my bag on one hand and a plastic full of Chinese cabbage. 

Yes! You read it right! A plastic full of Chinese cabbage from school!! My employer gave it to me. They got a couple beds of Chinese cabbage right at their backyard.

It was just the other week when I went home with a plastic full of ‘manila’ clams, from school. Of course, clams don’t grow in the backyard, it was brought by the mother of my employer, and so she gave me some.

And not just two times but a lot of times when I go home with a plastic full of watchamacallits! There were even some days when my boss visits me with a meal for dinner or lunch, sometimes the office staff had to take care of me when I got sick and had a porridge ready. I’m totally speechless!

‘Your like a sister’, “Your family’s not here, no one will take care of you”, “It’s nothing, everyone would do the same thing’. These are some of their answers when asked ‘Why are you doing this”?

I’m very grateful for everything they have done without hesitations and a thought of something in return. Though someone is a foreigner, Vietnamese people treat you like your a local person but with a little bit of TLC [Tender Loving Care).

These instances rarely happen in the city.  Back in my country, in the provinces, people know almost everyone.  They live a simple life, where everybody cares for their neighbor. Whereas in the city, almost everyone is indifferent. All people are just so occupied of making money and living their dreams and a couple of friends is just enough to share your thoughts with.

Hence, one could say,Hanoi is a city-like-province.  They share food, clothes, and other stuffs. Individualism is a rare thing here.

But sometimes a foreigner like me would have this feeling of awkwardness.

There just too much closeness at work that there is a need to draw a borderline and it’s called professionalism.

A friend of mine who lives in a dorm at school, complains about the staff ‘s rudeness. Opening someone’s door without knocking, opening the grocery bag which you brought from the grocers, calling you at the wee hours, ..and other things that are not that big of a matter but makes you annoyed.

I know the office staff and other students don’t mean any harm to my friend because they think of her like their close friend.

However it should be understood that foreigners are FOREIGN. They are people who have different cultures and values.

What upsets others, might not upset you or what makes people happy, might just be a corny joke to you. But there is a need to respect that difference!

I’m not saying that the people here are rude. There are advantages and disadvantages to a place. I’ve meet really amazing people, my boss and my students are really nice. They’ve been very good since I came here. I love the culture and their traditions. I respect their faith and principles.

It’s just that sometimes we have to consider that we live in a vast world. We meet different people from different backgrounds and we should respect that.


Hanoi Diaries 1

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Happy New Year everyone!!

I haven’t done a lot of writing lately. I’m having trouble with net connection since I moved to my new room.

Yes. New Year, New room, quite  fit for a new start.

I’m staying in  a flat alone, yes a bit lonely for the beginning of the year. I’m still in Hanoi but quite far from the city center and I have to travel for 40 minutes by car or ‘xeom’- a motorbike for hire.

I did a lot of organizing of this and that for the last few days. Boy! I’m glad that I’m back in front of my laptop again and typing this post. WHEEEEE!!!~

Anyway, after my daily routine ;wake up (at noon ^^)-eat lunch-have a class-go back to my room, I decided to go for a walk since I’m not very familiar with the town yet.

Supposedly, I was trying to find a fruit stand for my midnight munch but most stores are closed but it was still late 8. Most stores in Hanoi close early at night. I already mentioned that before in some of my reposts from blogger.

Going back to the story, I went quite far and found a lady  fanning a corn on a grill. I’ve been craving for grilled corns since I came here, but my friends advised not to buy one because they usually sell it outside with all the smog from the thousands of motorbikes and cars that pass ever minute. Nevertheless I bought one and I think there isn’t much pollution in this part of town so, it may be a little cleaner than the ones in the city center.

Then I asked her to give me one piece in their language, which I really gave my best effort so she will think I’m Vietnamese (to avoid being ripped off; few vendors do that to foreigners) but I guessed it didn’t work and asked if I’m from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city).

I explained that I’m from the Philippines and couldn’t understand much, then she got excited and started asking questions in Vietnamese. I don’t know why they do that, even though I say ‘keum-hyeo’ which means I don’t understand. It happened many times and I got a way to make them stop, by nodding my way out and thanking them for what I bought. Fortunately, I was given my exact change.

On my way back home, I realized that I overlooked a small fruit stand at the corner. I was so happy to find one and decided to check on some apples. The vendor was an old man, he looked haggard. At first I was scared to buy because he started saying somethings and then laugh but then again I thought I was lucky enough that there is  an open fruit store.

The fruits, especially some of the apples he was selling were soiled but were still good enough so I bought two. I handed 50 VND to him and he’s supposed to give me 32 VND for a change. But he gave me 0ne 20 VND and three 10 VND bills. So I explained that I gave him 50, then he said sorry and gave me two 10 VND bills,  70 VND in all.  He was apologizing. I was so confused and annoyed.

I showed him again the the 50 bill on his hand, the one I gave him, and pointed that he gave me 70 VND. He’s expression changed and he was saying sorry repeatedly.But he gave me another 10 VND , two 2 VND  and other bills.

That moment  I felt pity. I feel so sorry for him. I got 32 VND from the money he gave me and handed the rest, thanked him and said goodbye. He looked at the money I gave him and maybe from that moment he realized that he gave me extra. He SMILED. I could never forget that smile. A genuine one. He thanked me like how he apologized repeatedly awhile ago.

I feel happy to see his smile.

I feel guilty for thinking that all vendors are bad and they rip off every foreign customer.

I hope he won’t get cheated by chance takers out there. That’s some realization for the start of 2013. ^^

God Bless us all!

That SELFISH side of ME

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

* reposted from my blogger account

Hi Everyone,
Yes, I got to welcome myself back here again!!!. I wouldn’t say am busy, which most bloggers would say when they couldn’t think of anything to write..well, not all I guess..apologies~
Things got rough lately and I don’t feel like writing. I want to write something that I’m interested in or that I could relate to, not a bunch of crappy posts which I get to delete later on (I got more than 5 of those..geez)
From the title which is very intriguing, you might guess this is all about a boy that I’m seeing, but well, it’s not (sorry to spoil the guess..^^)
When am bored and don’t feel like going to the mall, I take out my laptop and surf for new movies, and there it goes..am entertained.Few minutes ago I was watching  this movie entitled “Bridesmaids“. It’s a new one and it’s still on in the cinemas at this very moment. The movie centers on the lady named ‘Annie who’s life seems to be all messed up plus getting left out on her best friend’s wedding preparations. She is totally annoyed with the new assuming friend of her best buddy who’s managing all the wedding stuffs.
What struck me the most is when she felt like she was an outcast of the most important part of her best friend’s life. And I ponder on that for a few seconds realizing how possessive I am towards others.
How she felt in the movie is exactly what I feel when I see any of my friends meeting other pals especially  those that I consider my best of friends. There’s that mixed of anger and envious feeling enveloping me. And I couldn’t help but be bitter towards those new found friends of theirs.

Many told me it’s not the right attitude, bet I want to tell that to myself ..but I just can’t change how my subconscious tells me that this doesn’t seem right.
“I’m your friend and Your mine, so why bother stick to a new one.”.. this though keeps on echoing at the back of my mind and that new found friend gets a forced smile from me (well much more like a grin).

My friends are well aware of this and some even confess of feeling the same way. ‘Was glad to know that it’s not some psychopaths thinking going through my head. I got a lot of advise about it and tried to take it into my system. Reminding myself of the good things other people can teach us in life, no matter how aloof they may be, or how bad you feel towards them.

Honestly, I haven’t overcome that selfish thought but am trying.
Trying to be friends to others too.. ‘coz when I lose one, there are still others who would care for me.
As they always say..”The more, the merrier..” ^^

Posted by at 11:24 AM

Slowly Getting the Hang of IT!

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dear Tabitha,

I never thought I would understand Hanoi, Vietnam ever.. the people, living conditions etc. herein. And so, I spent my free time surfing the net looking for answers just for me to survive this new land.
Fortunately after few hours of mouse clicks, I found your page. It was an incredible discovery for me. Page after page opens up new realizations. I was really happy to know that I’m not solo experiencing all the new stuffs,….everything is as it is used to be, it’s just that everything is new so it does seem weird.

It all started seeing dirty stuffs and how slapdash Hanoians seem to be. I wouldn’t say I came from a super clean country but I was raised to observe neatness everywhere I go. And it came as a shock when I bought my first bread here in Hanoi. I can vividly remember that scene, it was like a slow-mo from a movie. The title of the scene would be ‘HANDle with care my bread’. (pay attention to the capitalize word). I thought, why would the vendors do that when in fact I bought that particular bread in a known bakery..more of like the well-known French Baker back in my country.

Well, that was just one of the so many culture shocks I got from Vietnam. I judged them as the dirty ones..my apologies, but now I realized how they trust others so much. That realization came to me after a few months but it would take years to do how hanoians do there thing. I mean, I won’t eat the bread given to me by hand. But seeing that sight casually would be acceptable. I could say I won’t be as dumbfounded as before.

I really appreciate how you made me understand the place that I’m living in right now. I couldn’t have been more flexible without  me reading your posts. Thanks a lot! Do continue giving realizations to new hanoians like me. ^^

Posted by at 5:05 AM

LOVE is…

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Love is like a rosary full of mystery. Love is unexplainable. Love is unconditional. Love is when you always think of someone. Love is special…
These are just some of the repeated answers in teenage scrapbooks. ‘What is LOVE?” A question that follows your list of favorite food, music, color and the likes.  Some autographs even have questions like, “who is your first love?” Questions that obviously are not talking about the general concept of love but the teenage romantic love.
Childish..that is my first meaning of this thing.
I could still remember my seatmates irritating giggle whenever the guy whom she labels as her “love” passes our room. She even confessed of having a date with him right next to the school cafeteria.
Well not strange though, the place is crowded with high school couples displaying their cheesy affections towards each other after the school bell rings.
At a young age I came up with its own definition myself.  If love is..
somebody fetching you from home to school – My father does it for me and my brother.
someone who carries your books and bag –    I always thought of myself as strong and my bag doesn’t seem that heavy at all.
someone who eats lunch with you – Well, I’ve been eating lunch with my best friend since then.
someone who gives you cafeteria-sold chocolates on Valentines day – I can buy a pack of them myself.
someone who acts like your tail, following you everywhere – Tail? I don’t need one, becoming a tailed animal is definitely not on my list of dreams.
When I started going to the University, my meaning of the word has changed for the worst. Judging from the mature environment where I am in, I wouldn’t dare feel the –so called- LOVE.
Here is my new definition of the word..
–  someone who walks with you to your house but leave just in time for your parents not to get a glimpse of who you walked with
– someone who stalks you with his eyes around the campus
– someone who shares your boring moments during intramural days
–  someone who tells you the 3 word phrase over and over again, and asking if you could spend the night with him
someone who goes AWOL because of what you told him after you spent nights together
someone who makes you look stupid after all the wonderful nights you had.. making you leave school
..not fun. Was it?
If that’s what it is then, what’s all the giggle about? the red blush on each girl’s face whenever they receive flowers? the tears? the laugh? the blooming appearance?
Then it struck me. It was all wrong. I always though of it as someone but it is actually something. It is a feeling. A unique feeling that can’t exactly be put to words. That’s why poets use it as their theme for composing such award winning pieces.
Fairy tale books aren’t enough. Novels sometimes blind you of what the reality of loving is. Great philosophers leave you with thoughts to ponder. That’s what it is.
I was inspired to write this when all people close to me seem to think of it as a problem but not as a gift. To feel love is a gift. We are humans. And humans are known to be imperfect. Thus, having problems once in a while is not such an alarming situation.

Posted by at 9:28 PM

The so called Wasted Years..Is there such a thing?

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Why are there times that tick of the clock seems eerie?

The sound it makes send some tingling sensation down our spine.
It made me think of how time plays a great role in each of us.
I’ve always stick to this notion “Everything has its own time.”
As much as some people want to be spontaneous about their lives, no matter how they force it, if it’s not the right time for it to happen then it won’t really happen, sometimes we even face bad results of our hurrying time. I have experienced one myself.
We all have bad hair days, even the person who considers himself perfect has it.  A day when everything seems to go wrong. Then we should ask ourselves, did we start the day in a good time? Did we let time slip our way? Did we make use of it properly? Who knows?
Like a cup of coffee, we should let the sweet bitter taste of it lingers in our tongue. Enjoying every drop of it is what makes it a timeless treasure. Time should be enjoyed likewise.
Last night, I had a conversation with two of my friends. They were talking about a relationship that didn’t work out and how to let it work again.
Years wasted because of a relationship that all people concerned taught would end at the altar. Tears is what’s left reminiscing the so called wasted years.
Wasted Years is there such a thing? Was it really wasted? Or is she just denying the reality that something valuable happened during those years.
Until the time when we come to acknowledge the lessons we learned from our past, there will always be ‘wasted years’.  Maybe, it wasn’t the right time to be with that person. Maybe it wasn’t the time for her to meet the man she is destined to be with. Maybe those years had the purpose of keeping her emotionally stable for the future partner awaiting for the right time.
If we hurry things, deny the past, we don’t have the right to face the future. Our past makes our future. The person that we are now is a product of the past.
Everything has time. Future has its secrets. Everything is meant to be bitter-sweet.

Posted by at 5:04 AM

(this was a post in my google account)

To the Night Shift

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I’m sorry to tell you this but you’ve been so irritating recently. Well it’s not that big though but I easily get irritated when I encounter such things.

You see I easily get annoyed with someone who waits to be fed. I mean literally waiting to be fed.
I would sound selfish if I tell you I’m tired of asking what you want to eat every dinner time and you suggesting whatever you want to eat without even giving me a share of the effort.
Yes, I know I’m being my childish self again that’s why I’m apologizing  but I can’t help it when people are abusing my generosity and soft heartedness. This is just too much to take.
I’m not worried about the expenses but I’ve had my share of things to worry in the company and I don’t want to include that worrying stuff about you not eating if I don’t wonder. Your dinner dish can’t be inserted in between my thoughts of lesson presentations, tests and special classes. You know why? I don’t want to see worried people. I just don’t want people to feel bad because of me.
Once I asked you if you are hungry but you told me that you don’t feel like eating anything. Later that night I asked again and you said you are still very full but when I bought stuffs to cook, you gobbled every thing on your plate without hesitation. You must be very hungry, I thought.
I won’t be my kind self every night considering your situation. So please do take care of yourself. My kindness depends on my mood. I just feel like buying dinner for you at times but there will also be times when I don’t give a damn care about people around me.
Do understand that.
I’m sorry for the rant. I just want to share this.

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